What Are Smart Contracts?

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use find ourselves members of a number of legal groups, including the North Carolina Legal Geeks, which puts on several programs per year in the Charlotte area. If you find yourself in the Queen City tomorrow, Thursday, May 26, 2016, you might be interested in their latest program.

Called “What Are Smart Contracts?”, the program will feature local attorney and self professed legal hacker Tom Brooke will be speaking. Brooke is the founder of the North Carolina Legal Hackers, and as such, he knows a good bit about legal technology issues. He will be discussing how smart contracts will be used in the future as well as how they may affect the practice of law. As a refresher, our friends at Wikipedia have defined “smart contracts” as follows:

Smart contracts are computer protocols that facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract, or that make a contractual clause unnecessary. Smart contracts usually also have a user interface and often emulate the logic of contractual clauses. Proponents of smart contracts claim that many kinds of contractual clauses may thus be made partially or fully self-executing, self-enforcing, or both. Smart contracts aim to provide security superior to traditional contract law and to reduce other transaction costs associated with contracting.

The event takes place Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. at Kickstand Charlotte located at 1101 Central Avenue in Charlotte.

For more information, see the event’s Facebook page here.

Friday Links


Okay, so as you know, the new X-Men film, X-Men: Apocalypse, see its release next week. The film’s bad guy is, well, Apocalypse, who you can see depicted on the cover of X-Factor #19, published way, way back in 1987. As we like to say, those were the day. Oscar Isaac of Ex Machina and The Force Awakens fame plays the title villain, so we have some faith that the movie will be a good one. Yes, we do plan to at least try to see it at one of the sneak previews next Thursday night. What else would we do?

Um, did you see the new teaser trailer for the new “Star Trek” television series?

Has anyone registered for the North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting, which takes place in late June in Charlotte? As he does each year, our own editor, Jim Dedman, will be attending (something which will be made far easier since the event takes place in his home city). We hope to see you there!

Speaking of Charlotte events, if you’re interested in learning more about “smart contracts,” the North Carolina Legal Geeks are hosting a free event next Thursday, May 26, right here in the Queen City. Attorney and legal hacker Tom Brooke will be speaking. For more information, see the event’s Facebook page here. (Note: One great part about the event page is the usage of Willie Wonka’s contract as the header image.).

By the way, that three disc Grateful Dead tribute album is out today.

Trade Secrets Get Greater Protection – Benefit Business Owners

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use often direct your attention to the work of our writers and lawyers published elsewhere. Well, this week is no exception, as our own Zach Weaver has published a new piece about trade secrets entitled “Trade Secrets Get Greater Protection – Benefit Business Owners,” the first two paragraphs of which are:

Trade secrets are the lifeblood of a successful business. Be it the formula for Coke, a small business’s special manufacturing techniques, a corporate marketing strategy, or any other competitive business information that has value because it is not known to the public, trade secrets are what differentiate and give businesses an advantage over competitors. Congress has recently decided that such trade secrets and the businesses that hold them are deserving of greater protection. Last week, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (the “DTSA”) was signed by President Obama. Applicable immediately, the Act substantially amends Chapter 90 of Title 18 of the US Code and creates a federal cause of action for theft or misappropriation of trade secrets. The law effectively federalizes a significant number of trade secret claims, adding to the federal jurisdiction over intellectual property matters that already includes patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

Previously, trade secret cases were brought in state court unless another claim involving federal law existed or the parties were from different states and a sufficient amount of money was involved. This was because the majority of states had adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in some shape or form, including South Carolina which has the South Carolina Trade Secrets Act, S.C. Code 39-8-10, et seq.  The likely result of the DTSA will be that the federal and state law claims will be brought simultaneously in federal court (as the DTSA does not replace any of the claims one has under state law).

You can read the full piece here.

Friday Links


Did you know that next week heralds the arrival of the 30th anniversary of Top Gun? That’s right, the film was released in theatres on May 16, 1986, which certainly doesn’t seem like three decades ago. To be honest, we here at Abnormal Use fondly remember the Nintendo game more than than the film. We appended an image of the video game cartridge box above for nostalgic purposes.

This afternoon, you can see our editor, Jim Dedman, speak at the The South Carolina Bar Employment & Labor Law Midyear Meeting. He will be presenting on the issue of “Blogging For Lawyers and Related Ethical Issues.” You can see the program information here.

Congratulations to attorney and blogger Lindsay Joyner, who has been awarded the Katharine Heath Manning Perry Award from the Junior League of Columbia (JLC). The Katharine Heath Manning Perry Award recognizes a member of JLC who has excelled in community voluntarism and activism, through her JLC placements and through extensions of her JLC work and training. By the way, you can read Lindsay’s past blog posts here.

Friday Links

Okay, so we here at Abnormal Use saw Captain America: Civil War last night, and we were wowed. Go see it, and if you’ve not been following the series of posts by The Legal Geeks on legal issues relating to Captain America, please see here.

Don’t forget! A week from today, our editor, Jim Dedman, speaks on lawyer blogging to the South Carolina Bar in Columbia, South Carolina. For more information, please see here.

The Southeastern Symposium on Mental Health will be held in Greenville, South Carolina next week on May 5-7, 2016. Our own Stuart Mauney will be presenting at the Symposium on “Occupational Hazard: When Doctors or Lawyers Get Depressed.” Stuart is a long time mental health advocate and frequent speaker on mental health issues in the legal profession. For more information, see here.

Next week offers us yet another Friday the 13th. Beware.

Friday Links


Only one more week until Captain America: Civil War is released in theatres. We’re excited, as we are sure you are, as well. In fact, we are still recovering from the depressing onslaught of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so a new Cap film will be a nice change of pace. Perhaps we’ll provide a report of our thoughts on the film next week. In the meantime, above, you’ll find the cover of Civil War #2, published not so long ago in 2006 (which, although a decade ago, was a time a good Cap movie was still unthinkable).

Did you go back and listen to Purple Rain this week? If not, please do so. Of course, Prince didn’t make it very easy to find his songs online, did he? Nothing on Spotify, really. Alas.

Our favorite tweet of the week comes from our own Stuart Mauney (and you can see why we here at Abnormal Use dug it).

Abnormal Use At The South Carolina Bar Employment & Labor Law Midyear Meeting

If you’re in Columbia, South Carolina on May 13, 2016, you can see our editor, Jim Dedman, present to the South Carolina Bar Employment & Labor Law Midyear Meeting. He will be speaking on “Blogging for Lawyers and Related Ethical Issues” (a presentation he has updated to include a number of cases that have arisen in 2016. He will be the final speaker of the day at 3:45 p.m.

The only worry: The seminar takes place on Friday the 13th.

For more information on the seminar (or to register), please click here.

Friday Links


Rest in Peace, Prince. What a sad time, and what a terrible year it has been for the world of music with the loss of Bowie and Prince. We don’t know what to say. So, this weekend, find a moment during which you can pause, reflect, and listen to Purple Rain, Sign O’ The Times, Diamonds and Pearls. or the Prince logo.svg album.

That’s certainly what we here at Abnormal Use are going to do.

Above, you’ll find the cover of Rock N Roll Comics #21, published way, way back in 1991. We knew there had to be a comic book cover honoring Prince.

Oh, and our tweet of the week must address this same sorrowful topic.

Friday Links

Friend of the blog Ryan Steans celebrated his birthday this week. In light of that, we thought we would direct your attention to our 2013 post in which we congratulated Ryan on a decade of blogging. That’s no small feat! He’s run a few blogs over the years, and all of them are quite good. To read our congratulatory post, please click here.

Many thanks to Aaron S. Kirschenfeld of the UNC Law Library blog for his kind words about Abnormal Use. You can read them here.

Our tweet of the week comes from our editor, Jim Dedman, who had an eventful week on social media.

Friday Links


Rest in peace, Merle Haggard.

Okay, so what did everyone think of the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story teaser trailer? Technically, it is a Star Wars prequel, so we remain cautiously optimistic.

Friend of the blog Jill Wieber Lens recently published a new article in the St. John’s Law Review entitled “Product Recalls: Why is Tort Law Deferring to Agency Inaction?” You might recall that we here at Abnormal Use have previously interviewed her, once way, way back in 2010, and again in 2013.

We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. welcome attorney Gunnar Nistad to the firm. Based in our firm’s Charleston, South Carolina, office, Gunnar is a veteran litigator who has been defending corporations, businesses, and individuals for more than 20 years.

With this week arrived the 22nd anniversary of the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Two years ago, our editor, Jim Dedman, authored a post called “The Legacy of Kurt Cobain (A Law Blog’s Perspective.” Take a gander, if you fondly remember the halcyon days of the 1990’s.